News / USA

Obama, Congress Begin Contacts on Fiscal Challenge

President Barack Obama,Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha and Malia, walk from Marine One to board Air Force One at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago.President Barack Obama,Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha and Malia, walk from Marine One to board Air Force One at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago.
x
President Barack Obama,Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha and Malia, walk from Marine One to board Air Force One at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago.
President Barack Obama,Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha and Malia, walk from Marine One to board Air Force One at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago.
U.S. President Barack Obama is back in Washington after his decisive election win over Republican Mitt Romney.  The most pressing issue for the president and Congress is avoiding the so-called "fiscal cliff" at the beginning of the new year.

Obama already is taking steps to accomplish what he said in his speech in Chicago upon accepting a second term as president.

On his way to a strong Electoral College and narrow popular vote defeat of Mitt Romney,  Obama said Americans voted for "action, not politics as usual," and said he is ready to get to work with Congress.

"In the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together:  reducing our deficit; reforming our tax code; fixing our immigration system; freeing ourselves from foreign oil.  We've got more work to do," said President Obama.

President Obama telephoned Republican and Democratic leaders of the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, including Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

A White House statement said he reiterated his commitment to "finding bipartisan solutions to reducing the deficit in a balanced way, cutting taxes for middle class families and small businesses, and create jobs."

But compromises in Washington are difficult, and time is running short to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" of expiring Bush-era tax cuts and mandatory spending cuts.  

On Wednesday, Boehner voiced willingness to compromise on the contentious issue of new revenue, saying this could be accomplished through tax reform.

Boehner signaled he is open to new negotiations on a broader agreement to solve the nation’s deficit and debt issues.

"What we can do is avert the cliff in a manner that serves as a down payment on and a catalyst for major solutions enacted in 2013 to begin to solve the problem," said Boehner.

To receive Republican support, Boehner said  Obama would have to agree to reduce spending and address the need for changes in huge entitlement programs.

On Wednesday, Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid, who would have to be part of any compromise, said the election sent an overriding message.

"This was really the message the American people sent from all over and that is, they're tired of these partisan gridlocks," said Reid.

Thomas Mann, a political analyst at the Brookings Institution, says the president may have some openings to break through gridlock, but the overall atmosphere of polarization in the country has not changed.

"Looking at the individual members of the respective coalitions of the parties and the intensity of the level of partisan voting, so we see no new coalitions emerging, no glimpse of anything on which you would try to build a consensus in Washington based on the behavior of the electorate," said Mann.

With what he sees as his election mandate,  Obama is expected to step up consultations with Boehner and other congressional leaders on the approaching fiscal cliff.

How Obama and the White House respond to Boehner's overtures will play out in coming days as negotiations on the fiscal cliff intensify.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid